Bourne Mill – Uncovering Colchester’s Social and Industrial Past

Picture of a model of fulling stock at Bourne Mill

This was an exciting project which focused on the history of Bourne Mill, its inhabitants and industrial significance in the East Anglian cloth industry. The centrepiece of the project was the reconstruction of a working replica of bicycle-powered fulling stocks. The work involved getting a feel for heritage skills through research, interpretation of history and production of educational resources by young people aged between 11 to 25. The National Trust worked in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund, University of Essex and Essex County Council.

Over the centuries Bourne Mill has functioned as both a grain mill and a fulling (cloth-treating) mill. As a fulling mill it was an important part of the textile trade in Colchester. The mill stopped working in 1935 and the building was then occupied by a series of different tenants. In 1936 it was bought by the National Trust, which has been meeting the challenges of conserving the sixteenth-century stonework, the working water-wheel, and the mill-pond and mill grounds ever since.

Bourne Mill and its grounds form a heritage site which helps to tell the social and industrial history of Colchester.  It is visited by hundreds of people from across Essex every year.

The Heritage Project aims were to:-

·         Develop a richer understanding of the Mill's history, particularly in relation to the textile industry

·         Offer students who may aspire to a career in the heritage sector the opportunity to work us

·         Encourage more volunteering and community interest in the Mill

·         Use activities and events to let the wider community know aout the heritage of Bourne Mill

·         Help with the interpretation of the Mill’s history through research 

·         Design a bicycle-powered replica model of the fulling stocks that would have been at     Bourne Mill

The project was completed in 2016 and you can still see for yourself what the project achieved.